Friday, May 6, 2022

Another Court Rules That the Time Courts Were Closed Due to COVID-19 Pandemic Are Not To Be Deducted From the Delay Damages Computation

In the case of Yoder v. McCarthy Construction, Inc., May Term 2018, No. 0769 (C.P. Phila. Co. Feb. 10, 2022 Foglietta, J.), the trial court issued Rule 1925 Opinion requesting the Superior Court to affirm the trial court’s rulings during the course of a personal injury trial that resulted in a $5 million dollar verdict of the Plaintiff.

Of note, the court rejected the Defendant’s assertion that the trial court erred in awarding delay damages for the period that the court was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The court ruled that the plain language of Rule 238 indicates that delay damages are appropriate due to the delay that is not the fault of any party. The court found that a court closure due to a pandemic falls within this definition. 

The court additionally noted that the trial court’s closure during the pandemic “did not prevent defense counsel from picking up the telephone, scheduling a Zoom hearing, or sending a text message to opposing counsel indicating the desire to make an offer to settle this case.” See Op. at 11. 

The trial court judge indicated that the court’s closure could have served as an encouragement to the parties to settle and that, the fact that it did not, did not entitle the Defendant to a reward when the underlying purpose of delay damages is to discourage dilatory conduct.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (April 19, 2022).

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